Leopold Srom





Leopold ŠROM

…………….* 08.09.1917., Chrlice, Brno.

…………….† 11.10.1968., Kladno.








The Early Years

Leopold Šrom was born on 8 September 1917 in Chrlice near Brno where, from 1923, he attended the local school; he then continued his education for three years at secondary school at Tuřany with a further year at Brno. On completing his basic schooling in 1931 he wanted to continue to study electrical engineering but was not accepted for his chosen course. Instead he went on a three-year course to train as a radio-mechanic, which he successfully completed in 1935. The following year he took the opportunity to train to become a pilot in the ‘Thousand Pilots for the Republic’. This training scheme was initiated by the Czechoslovak government and industry as there were now concerns about the growing military strength in neighbouring Nazi Germany. In this scheme young men trained to become ‘sports and touring aircraft’ pilots, with instructors from the Czechoslovak Air Force. Leopold successfully graduated from the training on 1 October 1936 and received his pilot’s certificate.

Czechoslovak Air Force

Leopold Šrom, fighter pilot training at 4th Air Regiment.

He later joined the Czechoslovak Air Force, initially with the 5th Air Regiment, based at Brno, where he joined a basic military pilot training course. He was then posted to the 4th Air Regiment at Prague-Kbely airbase for fighter pilot training and then onto the Military Academy at Prostějov for advanced training.

Leopold Šrom, pre-war Czechoslovak Air Force.

He completed his military training at the end of 1938 and was posted to the 3rd Aviation Regiment at Spišské Nové Vsi in Slovakia.

To Poland

Following the German occupation in March 1939, Slovakia now became an independent ‘puppet’ State in return for supporting Hitler. The Germans disbanded the Czechoslovak Air Force and Leopold was demobilised and returned home. Like many other of his Air Force colleagues, he could not accept the Nazi occupation of his homeland and on 15 June 1939, he left his native Chrlice to travel to neighbouring Poland so that he could join the Czechoslovak military force which was being assembled there. He said, “On Thursday, 15 June, I went to Místek, where I had to report to Mr. Klus who took me to Frýdek to Mr Novák, where I met again with my brother-in-law mentor Bednář. I spent the night at Mr. Novák’s and on the second day he brought an eighteen-year-old boy, whose name I did not know, who led us to the village of Morávka, where we walked a little way upstream, where were we showed where we should cross the river, and so we reached Polish territory. From here we went on foot to Horní Suchá, where we boarded the train.”

In the village of Albrechtice, near Liberec, north-east Czechoslovakia, he was met by a pre-arranged guide and they continued onto Krakow. There he reported for duty at the Czechoslovak Consulate and was billeted at Malý Bronowice, a former Polish army camp outside Krakow.

In Poland, Leopold, like all the other escapers from Czechoslovakia, found that there was no enthusiasm from the Polish authorities to have Czechoslovak military units assembled on their territory as the Poles had no wish to provoke neighbouring Nazi Germany. Instead, negotiations between the Czechoslovak Consulate, Krakow and the French authorities resulted in the offer that the Czechoslovak escapees would be allowed to travel to France. However as French law did not permit foreign military units to be based on its soil in peacetime, the Czechoslovaks would be required to enlist in the French Foreign Legion for a period of five years but with the promise that if war was declared the Czechoslovaks would be released from their French Foreign Legion service and could enter into French military units. The alternative was that Czechoslovaks who would not accept these terms would be returned by the Polish authorities to Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.

To France

Leopold Šrom with other Czechoslovak escapees en-route to France.

On 25 July 1939, Leopold, along with other Czechoslovak military personnel, left Malý Bronowice and travelled by train to the port of Gdynia, where they boarded a ship to France. On arrival, they were taken to the Legion’s recruitment centre at Paris to complete enlistment formalities and medical examinations. By 26 August these were completed, and they were transported to the Legion’s training camp at Sidi-bel-Abbes, Algeria.

Leopold Šrom, Sidi-bel-Abbes 17 October 1939.

Only a few days later, on 1 September, the German army invaded Poland and two days later war was declared. However, Leopold and his colleagues had to wait until 1 November before they were released from their Legion service and returned to mainland France. Here, Leopold was accepted into l’Armée d’Air and on 30 November was posted to their training base at Chartres for retraining on French aircraft and to learn French. Before his training was completed, on 10 May 1940, Germany invaded France and some six weeks later, on 18 June 1940, France capitulated. Leopold and his Czechoslovak colleagues were evacuated from France by ship and taken to England.

The RAF

Leopold Šrom, Exeter, July 1942.

On arrival in England, he enlisted into the RAF as a Volunteer Reserve at the rank of Sergeant. Again he underwent aircraft re-training and language learning, this time on British aircraft and in English. This became the priority as the Battle of Britain was now taking place. At the end of November, he was posted to 245 Sqn, a fighter squadron then stationed at Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was there on 29 May 1941 that he achieved his first aerial combat with the destruction of a Luftwaffe bomber. In July he was posted to 310 Sqn (Czechoslovak), who were equipped at that time with Hurricane fighter aircraft and later re-equipped with Spitfire aircraft. On 23 July, whilst flying Spitfire V, BL495 NN-U, on a Rhubarb raid ( operational flights by either fighters or fighter-bombers that would take place when there was low cloud and poor visibility. The Allied aircraft would fly across the English Channel to occupied Europe, drop under the clouds and search for any targets of opportunity.) on Lannion airfield, France, a one-metre wide hole was blasted through his starboard wing by the airfield’s anti-aircraft defences. Leopold managed to fly the aircraft back to base in the UK.

On completion of his operational tour, he was posted for flying instructor duties where he spent his six months rest period, returning to 310 Sqn in January 1943 for his 2nd operational tour. In the later part of that year, he learned of plans for a Czechoslovak fighter squadron to be formed in Russia to fight on the Eastern Front, and volunteers were being sought from the Czechoslovak RAF fighter squadrons. Twenty-one Czechoslovak fighter pilots volunteered for this new squadron, one of whom was Leopold.

To Russia

In February 1944, Leopold left the RAF and with his 20 colleagues began their arduous trip to the Soviet Union. They arrived there in May 1944 where they underwent re-training on the Soviet Lavočkin La-5FN fighter aircraft. The new unit was named the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Fighter Aviation Regiment and was sent to help the Slovak National Uprising, which broke out at the end of August 1944.

Lavochkin La-5FN fighter aircraft of 1st Czechoslovak Independent Fighter Aviation Regiment.

Under difficult conditions, the unit achieved a number of successes in both aerial combat and against ground targets. During this period Leopold was awarded the Soviet Victory over Germany medal, which was only achieved if he shot them down six aerial combats against Luftwaffe aircraft making him the unit’s most successful pilot. Unfortunately, the Slovak National Uprising was ill-fated and by October had been suppressed, forcing the unit to evacuate from Slovakia back East to Soviet-held territory. Here the unit was reorganised into the Air Division and Lieutenant Leopold Šrom was appointed Commander of the 2nd Squadron of the 1st Fighter Regiment. With this unit, in April 1945, he fought for the liberation of Ostrava, Czechoslovakia.

Leopold Šrom, with other Czechoslovak airmen on the Eastern Front.

Post WW2

When WW2 ended, he rejoined the Czechoslovak Air Force where he tested new planes and repaired aircraft as well as testing airplanes for the Czechoslovak Scientific Aviation Institute. In February 1948, the Communists take-over of Czechoslovakia took place and they identified that those who had fought in the west during WW2 as a threat to their regime. Systematically the began to remove former RAF airmen from the Czechoslovak Air Force; usually by demoting them to the lowest rank, stripping them of any medals that Czechoslovakia had awarded them, and then persecuting them, including arrest and imprisonment.

Arrested by the State Security Police

In October 1948 Leopold had married Dagmar Novotná, neé Julínek, and in the same month he was promoted to the rank of štábní kapitán (Staff Captain). However, despite having fought with the Soviets, he was not spared the political purges that were taking place in the Czechoslovak Air Force. At the end of 1948, he was arrested by the StB – Státní bezpečnost – the State Security Police and detained. After his release, he was able to return to flying for a while, but shortly after was dismissed from the Air Force.

He managed to find work as a radio-mechanic with Tesla Žižkov, a national company. In the 1960s he was partially rehabilitated for the injustices of 1948. In 1963, Leopold was granted the lower rank of a Major, in reserve, in the Czechoslovak Air Force and in 1965 to the rank of Podplukovník (Lieutenant Colonel). With that partial rehabilitation came the opportunity to get back to flying. In 1966, he applied for employment as a pilot with ČSA – Československé Státní Aerolinie – the State airline. He successfully passed all the prescribed tests and met the medical requirements, and in 1966 he was accepted and employed as a co-pilot on Avia Av-14 transport aircraft which ČSA used on national and international routes. However, his service at ČSA was not to last long; on 11 October 1968, Avia Av-14, OK-MCJ, crashed a few minutes after take-off from Prague-Ruzyně, killing the three crew and eight passengers on board.

Following the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in November 1989, under the new regime led by the new President, Václav Havel, the former Czechoslovak RAF were morally and politically rehabilitated by the Czechoslovak authorities. In Leopold’s case, this happened on 17 June 1991, when he was promoted, in memoriam, to the rank of Plukovník (Colonel) in the Czechoslovak Air Force.

Medals :

In recognition of his military service during WW2 he had been awarded the following medals:

Czechoslovakia:

4x Válečným kříž 1939 (Czechoslovak War Cross 1939)
3x Za chrabrost (Medal of Honor )
Za zásluhy I. stupně (Medal of Merit, grade I)
Pamětní medailí se štítkem F – VB (Memorial medal with Franace, Great Britain and USSR campaign bars)
Rad Slovenského národného povstania I. triedy (Order of the Slovak National Uprising I grade)

Great Britain:

Defence Medal
War Medal

Russia

Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945

Remembered:

Memorial at Chrlice, Brno.

Šromová Street at Chrlice, Brno

In the Černý Most District of Prague 14, a street is named in his honour:

In November 2017, his name, along with the names of some 2500 other Czechoslovak men and women who had served in the RAF during WW2, was unveiled at the Winged Lion Monument at Klárov, Prague.




Posted in 310 Sqd, Biography, Not Forgotton, Other RAF Squadrons, Russia, Victim of Communism | 1 Comment

Recollections of Jiri Manak


The unedited recollections of S/Ldr Jiří Maňák about his escape from Czechoslovakia in 1939 to Poland, his journey to France, joining l’Arme d’Air, evacuation from France, joining the RAF, being shot down over Holland and his time as a Prisoner of War.

The recollection uses the RAF term of ‘Rhubarb’ – operational flights by either fighters or fighter-bombers that would take place when there was low cloud and poor visibility. The Allied aircraft would fly across the English Channel to occupied Europe, drop under the clouds and search for any targets of opportunity.

_______________________________________________________________

I was actually in the first party of Czech airmen coming to England from France, landing at Falmouth on the 23 June 1940. After passing through several camps we signed to the RAF VR on 3 July and started 310 Squadron at Duxford. There I did only three dual flights with Czech instructors. As there were too many pilots we, the youngest, were sent to the Czech Depot in Cosford, then to OTU and British squadrons

I started gliding in 1932 and passed the private pilot’s licence in 1935. Then I joined the Czechoslovak Air Force and passed the school with Vic Bergman as observer. After two years compulsory service I passed Air Academy and during our mobilisation I was serving in Russian light bombers B71. In 1939 I just started Air Force pilot’s training when the Germans came in. My escape from Protectorate was organised by Association of Czech Airmen. On the 28 June 1939 I went by train to Ostrava where we got further instructions. We went to a small railway station in Ostrava where we were told to climb at night a freight wagon. Just after 11 pm came a locomotive and after about half an hour we were in Poland Szumbark (now Havířov). It was a special train for this purpose. In Poland I was told the Germans discovered all of this about a week later. We were all concentrated in Krakov. Nobody wanted us. Only the French, but we had to sign for five years Foreign Legion with a promise that we shall be released in case of war. On 29 July 1939 a party of us boarded at Gdynia a Polish boat, Chroby, on her maiden way to South America and on the 1 August we landed in Bologne.

Jiří Maňák, Gdynia harbour 29.07.1939.

A party of us were stationed at St Cyr hoping the war will start soon. On 7 October 1939 I signed offically entry to Foreign Legion as sergeant but I stayed in France. As I did not finish Air Force pilot’s training I was sent to a base near Tours as air gunner. On the 1 December I was promoted to the rank of Adjutant-Chef. In January 1940 six of us with private pilots licences were sent to Advanced Training School at la Rochelle and then in March to Fighter Pilots School at Étampes. When, in May 1940, Germans started advancing to the West we continued training at several field aerodromes until we finished at St Xanare near la Rochelle, where I finished my training and was waiting for posting to operational squadron, but on the 18 June 1940 our Commanding Officer said during lunch that German tanks are about 30 km from us and therefore he was disbanding the school and anybody can do what he likes, go home or take an aircraft and fly where he wants. So I took this Morane 230, an aerobatic training aircraft, and flew south about 200 km to Cazères which I knew already from the time as air-gunner. We actually had no maps. We had a French Avis car which took us to the Czech Depot in Bordeaux about 80 km North. At the depot were concentrated about hundred Czechs and 200 Polish personnel.

Jiří Maňák, with l’Armée d’Air, France.

At the port we boarded a small Dutch cargo ship ‘Ary Scheffer’, and when we were leaving the port on 19 June we could see the Germans bombing Bordeaux. We went far into the Atlantic because the Germans occupied already the northern and western part of France. ‘Ary Scheffer’, was a small cargo ship of about 400 tonnes and we had to stay most of the time underneath the deck. After five days we finally, and luckily, landed at British port Falmouth. After passing through several camps a party of us went to London to sign an application to RAF VR and so we formed the first Czechoslovak squadron in Britain, number 310, in Duxford on 12 July 1940. I was commissioned as Pilot Officer number 81896. In Duxford I did only three dual flights with Czech instructors. There were too many pilots so me, and Pilot Officer Engineer Karel Drbolav, the youngest, were sent to the Czech Depot in Cosford near Wolverhampton to wait for vacancies at some OTU.

Jiří Maňák, 601 Sqn, RAF Northolt.

On the 27 September 1940 we went to 12 OTU at RAF Benson, near Oxford, to fly Battles, and on the 20 October to 6 OTU at Sutton Bridge on Hurricanes. Finally on 25 November me and Drbolav were posted to British operational squadron number 601 (Country of London) to Exeter where we did just a few scrambles and battle patrols and on 17 December we moved to Northolt in 11 Group. Firstly we did some scrambles and patrols and finally on 2 February we started escorting some Blenheims over to France – Boulogne, Calais, St Omer, and so on. Once we were patrolling at 33000 ft when three me 109’s were still above us. I tried to climb towards them and when I was about three to four hundred yards away I tried to fire at them but as soon as I pressed the button I spun. We had few skirmishes but for me without any further effect. On the 1st April I did my first Rhubard when we machine-gunned aerodromes near Crecy and Amiens.

Then in May and June 1941 we were moved to Manston with two assignments, to do dawn to dusk patrols in pairs between Thames Estuary and Dover against low-flying Me109’s which radar could not detect and escorting Lysanders on air-sea rescue work. On the 6th of May while we were escorting a Lysander trying to drop a dinghy to a chap in the sea just south of Dover there came in three Me109’s so I attacked and chased one across the Channel at sea level, gave him some bursts so that he hit the sea and was gone.

Once we had a big dog-fight over Dover with four Me109’s among the ballons, Dover flak and German’s long-range cannon. The esult was only one of our Hurricanes slightly damaged. On the 3rd of June while coming out of clouds near Boulogne I was attacked by one Me109. I broke up and attacked the second one at sea level. He crashed into the sea. My airscrew was was hit by shrapnel. In these two months at Manston I did over hundred operational flights and 120 hours.

Jiří Maňák, with 601 Sqn personnel by Aircobra aircraft.

From 1st July we moved to RAF Station Matlaske in 12 Group. There we were doing convoy patrols, scrambles searching for people. In August we moved to Duxford from where we were doing normal operational work on Hurricanes and at the same time we were getting American aircraft Aircobras. On these we did only few operational flights. I did three. Rhubards to Gravelines, St Omer, shipping recco Calais-Ostend, and night vectoring after bandit. But by the end of ’41 it was decided that Airacobras would go to Russia, that 601 will go to Malta and because and because at that time I had already 250 operational hours, limit was about 200, I was sent as instructor in November 1941 to 61 OTU at Heston on the outskirts of London on Spitfires. In May, OTU was moved to RAF Station Rednall and I was appointed officer commanding a flight. In A course there were usually around ten pupils.

Once I had a sergeant who was not very good. I saw that his space orientation is bad. But as he passed only so far, I just paid him much greater attention than to others. Once I took him for a formation flight at 6000 feet. At one moment my Spitfire shuddered and I went into flat inverted spin. I tried to get out of it but nothing helped, so at 2000 feet I had to jump out. As soon as my parachute opened I saw, about a hundred yards from me at the same height, complete tail unit with part of the fuselage. Apparently he set down on my aircraft and with his steel airscrew cut my aircraft just behind my head. The sergeant landed back at the aerodrome only with slightly bent airscrew. My luck was doubled when I was told by the parachute section that my parachute which they changed that morning disintegrated because of acid from battery.

In July I was posted to 81 Squadron at Hornchurch on Spits V and in August to 611 Squadron at Redhill with Spit IX’s as supernumerary flight commander. With Spit IX’s we were doing mainly top covers by escorting Fortresses. On the 19th August I did with 611 Squadron four flight over Dieppe operation and I got one Fw190 damaged. On the 5th September I got another Fw190 while escorting Fortresses to Rouen. By the end of September, I was appointed Flight Commander of a newly formed squadron, number 192, in Martlesham Heath with Typhoons with racks for two bombs of 250 or 500 pounds. As most of the pilots were operationally unexperienced and there were some troubles with the aircraft it took some time before we became operational. I did the first Rhubarb on 1st January 1943 on post installations of the dock at Bruges. We also passed a phase in preparation for invasion of Europe, sleeping in tents, separation from the outside world, and so on. But in April 1943 we did many Rhubarbs on trains and dive-bombing of aerodromes with very good results.

On 1 May 1943 I was appointed Commanding Officer of 198 Squadron at Martlesham Heath. The pilots were absolutely unexperienced, the morale was not very good and as we had not enough aircraft to do operations and also need for training I asked Fighter Command to put me out of operations for two weeks. I succeeded and so we went to RAF station Woodvale near Liverpool from 15th June to 5 July. Then we came back to Martlesham Heath, doing mainly patrols, shipping reccos and Hurricanes with rockets. For example we damaged in a fortnight, fifteen locomotives and some barges.

To be nearer to occupied Europe we moved on the 23rd August 1943 to Manston, doing mainly Rhubarbs and attacking transport and escorting Hurricanes with rockets. On Saturday 28th August 1943 I was leading four Typhoons to patrol a german airfield in Holland and to stop FW’s from trying to intercept our Hurricanes with rockets which were going to attack lock-gates at Loebs-Maldegom canal. There were low clouds and occasional rain which should shield us against enemy attack on the way back with lack of petrol. We flying right down on seaways and keeping radio silence up to 1900 hours when we should have crossed the coast. At 1851 hours when we were already nearing Knokke I heard on RT the password for cancelling the whole show, but being so far I decided to have a look on some trains. We crossed the coast at about ten miles inside Holland. I noticed smoke coming from my engine. Evidently some chance bullet affected my radiator.

There was nothing else to do than trying to return before the engine will jam; at least to reach the sea and be rescued by air-sea rescue service. But as soon as I crossed the coast back to sea my engine started getting rough and the speed was quickly dropping. Being right down on sea level I had no choice but to ditch right in front of me against high waves. The storm had about 40 to 50 miles per hour. The aircraft went right down under the water deep into the sea and therefore did not catch fire. The Typhoon had actually one bad feature, catching fire while crash landing on ground or in the sea. Because I lost my bearings I released compressed air into my Mae-West and that’s what shot me up to the surface. After I got into the dinghy the storm started with thick rain and gusts of wind so that the tops of the waves went over me but the dinghy kept stability. Unfortunately the wind was westerly and was pushing me back to Holland. At about 3 o’clock in the morning the storm washed me ashore at the island of Walcheren. In darkness and tick rain I crossed pipe, barbed wire fences and suddenly heard “Halte! Hände hoch!” and so I became a prisoner of war.

Most of Sunday I spent resting and drying my uniform. On Monday I was taken by two guards to Dulag Luft, an interrogation camp for airmen near Frankfurt am Maine. I had to undress completely and searched. I was stripped of most of the buttons, which were compasses, and linings which were maps of France, Belgium and Holland. The NCO who was searching me said only casually that I was Czech or Pole. Then I was put in a room about two on four metres with one bed, one table and two chairs.

Next morning a German officer came in and his first sentence was in Czech. I pretended not to understand and, according to Geneva Convention, told him only my service number, rank, first name, which I changed to James instead of Jiří, family name, Manak without the hook, and stroke, having in mind Mannock of the last war, and religion. And so every day came another officer, some with cigarettes and nice talk, some talking about my family and Gestapo. They wanted to know especially performance, organisation and missions of Typhoons. Then came in one day a young German officer who said he was a fighter pilot who was shot down during the Battle of Britain, hurt his spine and could not fly any more. He was coming in for several days, giving me some smokes, trying to draw me in conversation but I was cautious.

One day he even brought with him a young German airman, supposedly his nephew, who was spending leave at his home and who was monitoring just our RT frequency and, to my surprise, he said he recognised my voice and even described some of our trips and radio correspondence before I was shot down. Still. the officer asserted that I must tell him something about Typhoons otherwise they had orders to hand me over to the Gestapo. I explained to him that for me it would be better to be handed over to the Gestapo than to be court-martialled after the war for revealing military secrets. Then one day he came in with an interrogation. form where was my number, name, rank, religion and that I am British. I signed it, got prisoner of war number Stalag Luft III number 2378. I was released from interrogation.

Jiří Maňák, at Stalag Luft III, with felloe Czechoslovaks Ivo Tonder and Arnošt Valenta.

Later in Stalag Luft III where fifty prisoners were shot during the big escape, I found out what actually happened. I was shot down on the 28th August and on 10 September the British, with the aim Luftwaffe up, sent some ships and aircraft towards France to pretend an invasion. And in Dulag the interrogators got orders quickly to concentrate on new prisoners while I was already fourteen days old. ANd my interrogator, probably from sympathy as fighter pilot to another, was really merciful to me. Out of fifty-one Czech airmen prisoners of war I was the only one who passed as British for the rest of the war. As far as I know two more passed as Canadians.

Stalag Luft III was a big camp for British and American air officers near Sagan. Now Polish Żagań about halfway between Breslau and Berlin. In January 1945 when the Russians were nearing Breslau we were moved on foot and then by train to a camp between Hamburg and Bremen. Then in April we were again moved East until we finished nearly back living on the farms. On 2nd May 1945 came to the farm a British tank and we were liberated. After a few days we were taken through some British camps and then flown to Britain to RAF station Cosford near Wolverhampton. I just managed to pass all formalities so that I could celebrate Victory Day in London.

Czech fighter squadrons were waiting for new Spitfire IX’s and went home by the end of July. I was in the party who was waiting for the last of the Spitfires and so I landed in Prague on 24th August 1945 after being abroad for six years and two months.

My father was sent to Buchenwald on the first day of the war. In 1942 he was again interrogated by Gestapo about my escape from Czechoslovakia and then in September 1942 was he, my mother, two brothers and two sisters sent to the concentration camp Satabohice. SO my family spent nearly twenty years in German concentration camps, but luckily we all met again in Summer of 1945.

My score is two Me109’s shot down, two Fw109’s damaged, one locomotive destroyed, nine locomotives damaged, one tow-boat destroyed, three tow-boats set on fire, and further boats, wagons aerodromes etc damaged. I have these war decorations: Distinguished Flying Cross, four times Czechoslovak War Cross of 1939, three times Medal for Gallantry [Za chrabrost před nepřítelem] and on French Croix de Guerre avec palme bronze.

_______________________________________________________________

Post WW2, S/Ldr Jiří Maňák remained in the Czechoslovak Air Force with 312 Squadron. He was the first pilot to touch down at the Squadrons new peacetime airbase at České Budějovice At the time, he was flying Spitfire LF IXE, TE566 (DU-A). His career at České Budějovice was rather brief. Later in 1945, Maňák moved to VLU Air Research Institute in Prague-Letnany where he was employed as test pilot. He flew a multitude of aircraft types including Czech-produced Bf 109s (S-99), Me 262 (S-92), Spitfires and many civilian types. He gained fame for his public aerobatic displays across Czechoslovakia, including low-level aerobatics in a Me 262.

Like many returning ex-RAF personnel in Czechoslovakia, Jiří Maňák eventually fell into disgrace after the Communist coup in 1948. In 1950 he was dismissed from the Czechoslovak Air Force and arrested 23 November 1950 for divulging classified military information and treason and held in custody until his trial held on 8 June 1951 when he was acquitted. Despite his acquittal, the Communist authorities continued their persecution in his work and personal life. They would not allow him to return to flying and instead allowed him to undertake menial employment working on a riverboat. He was partly ‘rehabilitated’ in 1964 and could join Czechoslovak national airline, ČSA, as a pilot. He retired in 1971 and finally, after the Velvet Revolution in 1989, he was fully rehabilitated.

Jiří Maňák, with fellow Czechoslovak airmen, Duxford, July 1990.

Colonel Jiří Maňák died on 29th December 1992 in Prague.

There is a memorial plaque in České Budějovice remembering him and also his father Jaroslav.

In the Černý Most District of Prague 14, a street is named in his honour:

In November 2017, his name, along with the names of some 2500 other Czechoslovak men and women who had served in the RAF during WW2, was unveiled at the Winged Lion Monument at Klárov, Prague.




Posted in Autobiography, Not Forgotton, Other RAF Squadrons | 4 Comments

Wellington byl jejich osud




Wellington byl jejich osud


Životní příběh Sgt Jaromíra Drmelky, pilota 311. bombardovací perutě RAF.

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Daniel Švec




Kniha vypráví životní příběh, popisuje osud, jeden z mnoha. Jeden z tisíců. Životní pouť pilota – letce. Jaromír Drmelka své první letecké krůčky začal v republice Československé. Díky zachovanému zápisníku letů se můžete v této knize dočíst, jak probíhal výcvik pilotů na konci 30. let. Jak se mohl člověk stát letcem, jaký byl systém výuky, kde mohl sloužit a na čem létat.

Cesta hlavního protagonisty po rozboření republiky a vzniku protektorátu vedla přes Polsko, kde se stal příslušníkem polských ozbrojených složek, přes východ až do Francie. Cestou prožil perné chvíle. Nekonečné ústupy, internaci. Ani ve Francii se poměry nezlepšily – zažil zde tábor v Agde.

Po pádu Francie se dostal do Anglie, vstoupil do RAF, kde se v závěru výcviku přecvičil na tamní letouny Wellingtony – stal se z něho bombardovací pilot a potkala ho zde i velká láska. Prožil ostrý nálet nad okupované území, začal brázdit s letounem nekonečné vodní plochy při „lovu ponorek“. Domů se ale nevrátil. Jedna taková hlídka se jemu a jeho osádce stala osudnou – 18. 8. 1942. Poslední zprávu vyslali: „Jsme napadeni…“ Od té doby se po nich slehla zem.

V knize nenajdete jen jeden osud. O svém životě promlouvají mnozí. Pomocí dochovaných zpráv z archivu, literatury. Kromě četných dobových fotografií jsou zde použity i cenné záznamy z dochovaného památníku Jaromíra Drmelky, do kterého mu jeho četní kolegové zapisovali a kreslili „něco na památku“.

Publisher:
Vydavatel
ISBN: 978-80-270-8715-0
Format:
Počet stran
Hardback, 200 pages
Vázaná kniha, 200 stran
Language:
Jazyk
Czech
Česky
Published:
Publikováno
15.01.2021.
Price:
Cena
900 Kč




Posted in 311 Sqd, Books | Leave a comment

2021 Donation Appeal


2021 prosba o pomoc

In May 2010 we, the Free Czechoslovak Air Force Associates ltd, founded the www.fcafa.com website to provide an online resource of information about the Czechoslovak men and women who served in the RAF during WW2.

V květnu 2010 naše společnost, The Free Czechoslovak Air Force Associates, Ltd., založila web www.fcafa.com, abychom poskytli zdroj online informací o československých mužích a ženách sloužících za druhé světové války v řadách RAF

Since that foundation, we have published a wide range of articles – currently 987 – providing pertinent information on this subject – from personnel lists, autobiographies, biographies, research sources, historical background information, squadron histories, aircraft data, aircraft lists, locations of all the 512 fallen Czechoslovak RAF airmen and woman, to medals awarded, locations of Memorials and Memorial plaques around the world where Czechoslovak RAF personnel are commemorated.

Od jeho vzniku jsme na něm zveřejnili širokou škálu článků, dosud 918, poskytujících informace k tomuto tématu. Od jmenného seznamu příslušníků, výčtu medailí, které získali, autobiografií, biografií, zdrojů informací, zmínek o historickém pozadí, historii perutí, přes údaje o letadlech a jejich přehledu, až po místa posledního odpočinku 512 padlých československých příslušníků a příslušnic RAF a pomníků a desek připomínajících jejich památku po celém světě.

We are pleased that the website has become the leading online resource about the Czechoslovak RAF men and women, with a worldwide readership, with many of our articles now also being in Czech. Currently, the website has reached over 800,000 pages read!

Jsme rádi, že se náš web stal jedním z hlavních zdrojů informací o Čechoslovácích v RAF, který našel své čtenáře po celém světě. Mnoho našich článků je přeloženo také do češtiny. V současnosti náš web dosáhl 800 000 unikátních návštěv.

Additionally, we are pro-active in supporting Czechoslovak remembrance events, ceremonies and exhibitions, and have participated in numerous campaigns to ensure that the achievements and exploits of the Czechoslovak RAF men and women are better and correctly, known for the benefit of current and future generations. Our work has also included providing countless relatives with assistance in researching their Czechoslovak RAF relative – our respected archive is the largest resource for Czechoslovak RAF material outside the Czech and Slovak Republics.

Také aktivně podporujeme slavnosti, akce a výstavy připomínající Čechoslováky v řadách RAF, a podílíme se na mnoha kampaních. Snažíme se o to, aby jejich úspěchy a výsledky byly příštími generacemi lépe a přesněji poznány. Naše práce rovněž zahrnuje poskytování pomoci příbuzným, kteří hledají údaje o členech svých rodin sloužících v RAF. Náš archiv je největším zdrojem těchto informací mimo území České a Slovenské republiky.

This good work is all being achieved with the help of a small dedicated team of volunteers, from around the world – from researchers, translators, historians, Czechoslovak RAF relatives to photographers and graphic specialists – who assist us in many ways with their valuable time and resources.

Veškerá tato naše práce je možná díky pomoci malých a nadšených týmů dobrovolníků z celého světa, od badatelů, překladatelů, historiků a příbuzných našich veteránů, až po fotografy a grafiky, kteří nás podporují mnoha způsoby a věnují nám svůj drahocenný čas a zdroje.

So far all this has been achieved by privately funding or by donations, but to enable us to continue maintaining this high standard and to help open more avenues for our research, further financial support is needed.

Toto všechno bylo dosud umožněno pomocí soukromého financování nebo s podporou darů. Ale abychom mohli pokračovat na této vysoké úrovni a také začít výzkum v nových oblastech, potřebujeme finanční podporu.

Would you please consider donating to help us achieve this aim?

Mohli byste, prosím, zvážit Vaši možnost daru, který by nám pomohl dosáhnout našich cílů?

To make a donation please click here.

Pokud byste chtěli na tento projekt přispět, klikněte zde.

We thank you in advance for any support you can give!

Předem Vám děkujeme za jakoukoliv částku, kterou můžete věnovat!





Posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd, Information | Leave a comment

Muzi v uniformach RAF z okresu Kromeriz





Muži v uniformach RAF z

okresu Kroměříž

za svobodu Československo 1939 – 1945

od

Zdena Trávníčková




Už název této malé publikace čtenáři jasně napovídá, o čem je – souhrn informací o 40 československých příslušnících RAF z kroměřížského okresu (jmenný seznam je uveden na konci příspěvku). Podobné informace můžeme najít v řadě jiných publikací či internetových webech. V jednom se ale tato skromná publikace od ostatních liší. Vznikla lokálně a s prvotním účelem rozšířit informační portál místních středisek a knihoven daného okresu.

Její autorka, Zdena Trávníčková, již v úvodu předesílá, že není profesionální historik, ale že tato publikace je plod jejího celoživotního zájmu o historii našich příslušníků v RAF, na jehož počátku stojí skutečnost, že autorka je neteří jednoho z nich, Aloise Šišky. Není to však první počin autorky, která byla rovněž iniciátorkou a podílela se na realizaci již dvou tématických výstav a pamětních desek. Jednou z nich byla právě výstava o československých letcích v RAF z kroměřížského okresu, která proběhla v rámci vzpomínkové akce v Kroměříži v listopadu 2015, včetně besedy a odhalení pamětní desky pěti z nich, kteří se narodili přímo v Kroměříži.

Aspekt realizace je také odlišný. Práce autorky neskončila dopsáním poslední věty. Následovalo shánění finačního sponsora, tiskárny, řešení distribuce atd. A tak Zdenka oslovovala, psala a vysvětlovala, zatímco Dagmar na dálku z francouzských Vogéz držela palce a povzbuzovala. Povedlo se jí to.

Není to první publikace tohoto typu – podobně v znikla např. publikace Památník letců Zlínska na bojištích druhé světové války od Ladislava Slámečky, vydaná za podpory Nadace Tomáše Bati Zlín. Lze jen doufat, že budou další, protože jejich význam nespočívá jen v udržování této kapitoly historie živé v obecné rovině, ale především v rovině historie místní, at už je to v okrese Kroměříž, holandském Pettenu nebo jinde. Proč? Protože pochopení historie a z ní následné poučení nezačíná přece ve světovém měřítku, ale na hned na prahu dveří každého z nás.

Jmenný seznam:

BACHUREK Svatopluk, BACHUREK Zdeněk, BEDNAŘÍK Karel, BÍLAVČÍK Miroslav, BÍLEK František, BLÁHA Josef, BUBÍLEK Vojtěch, HAINA (HEIN) Jan, HALAMÁSEK Evžen, HORÁK Bohumil, HRŮZA Josef, CHMELÍK Jaroslav, KAŠNÝ Blažej, KRPEC Vladimír, KRUPICA Rupert, KRUTIL František, LANČÍK Jaroslav, MACHÁLEK František, MICHÁLEK Vilém, MIKULÍK Miloslav Eugen, NĚMEČEK Rudolf, NIESSL Zdeněk, OBDRŽÁLEK František, OSSENDORF (OSENSKÝ) Robert, POLITZER Maxmilián, POLITZER František, RUPRECHT Václav, SADIL František, SCHELLONG Jaroslav, SKIRKA Jindřich Petr, SLEZÁK Vojtěch, SNÍDAL Ladislav, ŠEVČÍK Ladislav, ŠIŠKA Alois, ÚLEHLA Lubomír, URUBA Petr, VALACH Karel, VALÁŠEK Karel, ZÁVADA Emil, ZBOŘIL Felix.

Tato publikace je v prodeji ve čtyřech informačních centrech okresu (Kroměříž, Hulín, Holešov, Bystřice pod Hostýnem) s doporučenou prodejní cenou 79,- Kč.

Vydavatel :
Publisher :
Lebedovský mlýn
ISBN: 978-80-88145-42-4
Format:
Počet stran
brožovaná, 53 stran
Paperback, 53 pages
Language:
Jazyk
Česky
Czech
Published:
Publikováno
2020
2020
Price:
Cena
79 Kč
Posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd, Ace, Books, Not Forgotton | Leave a comment

Czechoslovak RAF – Remembered 2020


Remembrance / Vzpomínka 2020

Bahamas :

Nassau

BŘÍZA Vítězslav

HADRÁVEK Jan

MAREŠ Jaroslav

SALZ Karel

ŠOTOLA Josef

TURNA Josef

_______________________________________________________________

Czech Republic :

Bystřice pod Hostýnem

ZBOŘIL Felix

BUBÍLEK Vojtěch

_______________________________________________________________

Chotěnov – DVOŘÁK Bedřich

_______________________________________________________________

Český Těšín

_______________________________________________________________

Dačice – POSPÍCHAL Karel

_______________________________________________________________

Dolní Břežany – PRCHAL Eduard

_______________________________________________________________

Dolní Lhota – ŠTĚRBÁČEK Jaroslav

_______________________________________________________________

Hromnice – LIŠKA Antonín

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Humpolec – DYGRÝN Josef

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Kdyně – HUBÁČEK Josef

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Krnov – KOLÁČEK Jaroslav

_______________________________________________________________

Kroměříž

_______________________________________________________________

Lukov – PÍPA Josef

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Morkůvky – PEŘINA František

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Nová Paka – FEJFAR Stanislav, HRUBÝ Otakar, VRÁNA Adolf

_______________________________________________________________

Olomouc

_______________________________________________________________

Olslavany – KUŇKA Karel

_______________________________________________________________

Otaslavice – FRANTIŠEK Josef

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Plzeň – SEDLÁKOVÁ Edita

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Prague – Dejvice

_______________________________________________________________

Prague – DUDA Josef

_______________________________________________________________

Prague – JANOUŠEK Karel

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Prague – Winged Lion Monument

11.11.20.

Christmas

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Prostejov

_______________________________________________________________

Rožná – ZELENÝ Adolf

_______________________________________________________________

Rudimov – JANŮJ Otakar

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Svatý Kříž – KUTTELWASCHER Karel

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Štěnovice – KESTLER Oldřich

_______________________________________________________________

Třebíč

_______________________________________________________________

Vítova – DOLEŽAL Oldřich

_______________________________________________________________

Egypt :

el-Alamein Memorial

_______________________________________________________________

France :

St. Brieuc – ŠTEFAN Benignus

_______________________________________________________________

Great Britain :

Biggin Hill

January

August

_______________________________________________________________

Beachy Head

_______________________________________________________________

Bentley Priory

_______________________________________________________________

Brookwood

Christmas

_______________________________________________________________

Bury St Edmunds – MŽOUREK Alois

_______________________________________________________________

Capel-le-Ferne

January

July

August

October

_______________________________________________________________

Cheadle – ŠKACH Antonín

_______________________________________________________________

Chevington

KOCOUREK Ladislav

ŠINDELÁŘ Václav

_______________________________________________________________

Dagenham – MAREK František

_______________________________________________________________

Duxford

August

Remembrance Sunday

_______________________________________________________________

Dyce

DVOŘÁK Alois

ZAORAL Vladimír

_______________________________________________________________

Easy Grinstead

_______________________________________________________________

East Wretham

July

Remembrance Sunday

_______________________________________________________________

Heanton Punchardon

CÍGLER Miroslav

NOVÁK František

ORLÍK Vilém

PANCÍŘ Rudolf

ZIMPRICH Stanislav

Honnington

_______________________________________________________________

Hornchurch

BÖNISCH František

BRÁZDA Prokop

KONVALINA Blažej

VALENTA Josef

_______________________________________________________________

Kenley

GÖTH Vilém

_______________________________________________________________

Kiltearn – KALÁŠEK Jaroslav

_______________________________________________________________

Liverpool – BARTOŠ Jindřich and HANZLÍČEK Otto

_______________________________________________________________

London

Battle of Britain Monument

May

_______________________________________________________________

Bomber Command Memorial

May

11.11.20.

_______________________________________________________________

Czech Club

_______________________________________________________________

St Clement Danes

_______________________________________________________________

Lowestoft – HORKÝ František

_______________________________________________________________

Market Drayton – KESTLER Oldřich and MARTINEC Josef

_______________________________________________________________

Northwood – FRANTIŠEK Josef

_______________________________________________________________

RAF Honnington

_______________________________________________________________

Reigate – HORÁK Bohumil

_______________________________________________________________

Runnymede

May

Czech National Day

_______________________________________________________________

Sittingbourne – GÖTH Vilém

January

_______________________________________________________________

Scottow – BREJCHA Václav

_______________________________________________________________

Southend – HRADIL František

_______________________________________________________________

Sutton – FRANTIŠEK Josef

_______________________________________________________________

Tain

_______________________________________________________________

Uxbridge – KUTTELWASCHER Karel

_______________________________________________________________

Warmwell – HLAVÁČ Jaroslav

_______________________________________________________________

Westwell – DYGRÝN Josef

January

_______________________________________________________________

Whittlesford

POHNER Benedikt

ZAVADIL Jaroslav

_______________________________________________________________

Whyteleafe

BĚHAL František

NASSWETER Albín

_______________________________________________________________

Holland :

Lemmer – MAREŠ Jiří

_______________________________________________________________

The Hague – KUŇKA Karel

_______________________________________________________________

Slovakia :

Bratislava – AMBRUŠ Ján

_______________________________________________________________

Bratislava – SMIK Otto

_______________________________________________________________




Posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd, Not Forgotton | 3 Comments

Winged Lion Remembrance Christmas 2020



For 2020, our candle remembrance project to commemorate the 2512 Czechoslovak men and women who served in the RAF during WW2 included the Winged Lion Monument, Prague this Christmas.

Náš projekt připomínající 2512 československých mužů a žen, kteří sloužili za druhé světové války v RAF, obsáhl o Vánocích roku 2020 také pomník okřídleného lva v Praze.

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Five candles to represent 68 Sqn, 310Sqn, 311 Sqn, 312 Sqn and 313 Sqn were laid there.

Bylo zapáleno pět svíček představujících 68., 310.,311., 312. a 313. peruť.

Many thanks to our Prague FCAFA volunteers for their kind help.

Vřelé díky pražským dobrovolníků FCAFA za jejich nezištnou pomoc.

_______________________________________________________________

If you would like to support this project, donations can be made via the Donate button in the right-hand panel of this page.

Pokud si přejete podpořit tento projekt, můžete použít tlačítko „Donate“ na panelu na pravé straně naší stránky.

_______________________________________________________________




Posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd, Not Forgotton | Leave a comment

John P Rennison – RIP



It is with much sadness that we must advise that F/Lt (retd) John P Rennison, died aged 72, on 1 January 2021 at Burton on Stather, Scunthorpe, UK.

S velkým smutkem v srdci oznamujeme, že 1. ledna 2021 zemřel ve Scunthorpe (Velká Británie) John P. Rennison Flight Lieutenant v.v.

John was a respected aviation historian and author within the Czechoslovak RAF community for many years and a noted authority on 311 (Czechoslovak) Sqn. His interest in aviation and this squadron was nurtured from his father, Sgt John Rennison who served with its Engineering staff during WW2.

John byl po mnoho let mezi československými příslušníky RAF uznávaným historikem letectví a autorem mnoha prací. Jeho specializací byla 311. bombardovací peruť. Svůj zájem o problematiku, a konkrétně 311. peruť, zdědil po svém otci, Sgt. Johnu Rennisonovi, který u ní sloužil jako technik.

After retiring from the RAF, John extended his aviation interest to include voluntary work at the North Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre, RAF Ingham Heritage Centre and also regular visits to commemorate Operation Market Garden, at Arnhem, Holland.

Po odchodu z RAF John ještě rozšířil svůj rozsah zájmů a začal pracovat jako dobrovolník v Friends of RAF Hibaldstow, RAF Ingham Heritage Centre a také se pravidelně účastnil pietních setkání Operace Market Garden v Arnhemu v Holandsku.

John’s friendship, knowledge, and empathy to the Free Czechoslovak Airmen will be greatly missed, and we extend sincere condolences to Patti, her daughters Michelle, Debi, Katy and Caroline and their families.

Johnovo přátelství, znalosti a souznění s československými letci nám budou velmi chybět. Upřímnou soustrast Patti a jejich dcerám Debi, Michelle a Katy s rodinami.

Rest in Peace

Čest jeho památce




Posted in 311 Sqd, No longer with us, Not Forgotton | Leave a comment

Brookwood 12.12.20. – part II


Part II of our Czechoslovak Christmas 2020 remembrance at Brookwood:

Druhá část Vánoční vzpomínky 2020:

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Part I of this event here.

První část Vánoční vzpomínky zde.

Many thanks to the volunteers from FCAFA and all those who contributed financially, it would not be possible without you.

Velké díky dobrovolníkům z FCAFA a všem kteří finančně přispěli, bez Vás by to nešlo.

_______________________________________________________________

If you would like to support this project, donations can be made via the Donate button in the right-hand panel of this page.

Pokud si přejete podpořit tento projekt, můžete použít tlačítko „Donate“ na panelu na pravé straně naší stránky.

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Posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd, Events, Not Forgotton | Leave a comment

Happy Christmas – Radostné Vánoce – 2020





Posted in 310 Sqd, 311 Sqd, 312 Sqd, 313 Sqd, 68 Sqd | Leave a comment